No Powers, No Problem in Exhibition Opener

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Having healthy players changes a team.

That was evident Sunday afternoon, as the Michigan State women’s basketball team won their first and only exhibition game against Michigan Tech, 74-43. The team had 13 of their 14 players suited up to play. The lone player not available for the Spartans was last year’s leading scorer, redshirt junior forward Aerial Powers, who is still recovering from tendinitis in her achilles.

Rebounding was key for the Spartans, as they out rebounded the Huskies, 45-27. Leading the way was sophomore transfer Morgan Green and senior Jasmine Hines, who both had eight boards.

This was Hines’ first game back after an injury that sidelined her most of last season. She quickly showed she was ready by scoring six of the team’s first eight points, including two quick free throws to start the game.

“It felt good to get those two free throws since I struggled last year,” Hines said. “It got my confidence going.”

Green was critical for the Spartans as she was able to run point guard for the team, something that was missing from the team last year as junior Tori Jankoska took most of those responsibilities. Though she only had one point the entire game, Green still made an impact on the game by leading the team with eight assists and eight rebounds

Jankoska led the team in scoring by finishing with 21 points, as well as shooting 3-7 from three. She started out slow, not scoring her first points until 3:36 left in the first quarter, but quickly turned it around and caught the hot hand with five immediate points after this. She also led the team in minutes played with 37.

Head coach Suzy Merchant spoke about Jankoska’s play and heavy workload.

MSU junior guard, Tori Jankoska, stands at mid court during Sunday’s exhibition against Michigan Tech. (Photo: Zane D'Souza/Impact Sports)
MSU junior guard, Tori Jankoska, stands at mid court during Sunday’s exhibition against Michigan Tech. (Photo: Zane D’Souza/Impact Sports)

“Tori defends both ends and can score,” Merchant said. “It wasn’t ideal, the 37 minutes, but, I needed someone who was here last year.”

One player who was hit hard by injuries the past two seasons was redshirt sophomore Branndais Agee,  was able to post 11 points and four rebounds. Agee had to deal with an ACL injury last year, and had to battle nerves to start the game. She shook this off by scoring all of her points in the second half.

“I was nervous to come back and play in front of the big crowd,” Agee said. “It took me awhile to settle in.”

The second half was a big one for MSU, as they scored 41 points as a team and shot 48 percent  from the field. With Powers sitting out the Spartans focused on post play, as they outscored Tech 40-8 in points in the paint. The Spartans also made up for her absence with four players scoring in double-figures.

Coach Merchant spoke about Powers’ recovery process.

“She started practicing this week so we’ll see,” Merchant said. “She just started doing live drills.”

The team’s next game is their home opener, Sunday, November 15 against Western Michigan at 2 p.m.

If you missed the game, Big Ten Network has you covered with the highlights here:

Notable Stats:

MSU had 22 assists on 25 made field goals

MSU outscored MTU 27-6 off of turnovers

MSU went 19-23 from the free-throw line and limited MTU to go 4-5


Zachary Swiecicki contributed to this article